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Nokia Corporation
I'm not Scratching my Head ...

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By InCards
May 31, 2005

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... and in fact the totality of what Nokia announced last Wednesday, the way they announced it, and the venue they announced it at, was a first step in covering a base I felt they needed to cover, and they covered it in a way that both exceeded my expectations and surprised me at the same time. It surprised others as well and that led to a slew of articles on their product launch, many of which have the authors scratching their heads.

In a recent article for TMF called "Almost Perfect" discussed on a previous thread here, TMF Scrap (Nathan Parmelee) stated:

... Nokia kills me as an investor. For reasons that elude me, Nokia keeps trying to find another niche outside of its very profitable core handset business. ... If I were a Nokia shareholder, I'd be scratching my head at these attempts.

Unlike TMF Scrap I am a Nokia investor and I am not scratching my head at this latest step in Nokia's pioneering efforts in mobile digital convergence in pursuit of their <'Life Goes Mobile' vision, even though I'm not exactly sure how far Nokia's 1st open source Linux step is going to take us, or how fast ...

... but I do view this step as another important and logical extension of Nokia's core business which is rapidly becoming significantly broader than simply designing and manufacturing traditional cellular "handsets," and even the most highly converged of that breed where Nokia is already leading-edge based on its Symbian based device and software releases in the last year.

The Nokia 770 is a handheld device -- a thin client, or internet terminal, in this case, that makes use of hardware components used in their cellular handsets, and which is built on the same unmodified production lines used to build those cellular handsets - but this handheld is different than any handheld Nokia ever launched before and the difference is not (just) that it lacks a cellular modem and unfortunately "Almost Perfect" never mentioned the difference.

Not only didn't it mention the Linux OS that powers the compact Bluetooth and WiFi enabled Nokia 770 handheld with widescreen high resolution display, but he didn't mention the LinuxWorld venue for the launch and the buzz it created there, the large Linux development community, the concurrent launch of the Maemo Development Platform and Nokia Internet Tablet Software Edition for the device and the devices that will follow in the 770's footsteps, or the Nokia Linux related patent announcements.

In my estimation any article commenting on the Nokia launch, without alluding to the software platform launch and the targeted developer community, misses the mark, even if the author is restricted to article length. In 160 words, Nils Faerber of Germany's kernelconcept captured the essence of the launch:

>> "Today Nokia announced the introduction of the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet device along with the Open Source based Maemo Development Platform.

With this new product Nokia enters several new worlds all at once:

--> A new concept for the use of a handheld device
--> A new fully visible open source based development process
--> The explicit use of open source software in a commercial grade product.

The typical use case for the Nokia 770 is to be the internet usability extension to your mobile phone or other wireless internet access equipment.

It is extremely portable by its small form factor, usable for almost all internet applications though its exceptional resolution of 800x480 pixel and its multimedia capabilities by making use of a TI-OMAP CPU and a accompanying digital signal processor (DSP) core.

The consequent use of open source software and technology basing on the Linux kernel 2.6, X11-server technology and the GTK+ toolkit the resulting new Hildon graphical user interface creates a fully new user interface experience for portable Linux devices."
<<

To compound the problem, "Almost Perfect" never picked up on one of the most important near-term leading or bleeding edge capabilities of the Nokia 770 for internet telephony ...

As Abe pointed out the Nokia 770 can and will be used for phone calls and when it is it won't cut into a users bundle of cellular minutes. The Nokia 770 will offer SIP-complaint VoIP Internet telephony (Voice over Internet Protocol) as well as Instant Messaging, and that capability will be made available as a software upgrade for the OS that supports the device in H1 2006. Robert Liu, editor of TMCnet, feels that the as of yet unspecified VoIP and IMS software client will be Helsinki-based Movial Corp's already developed 'VoIP Connect' ...

VoIP Connect for the Nokia 770 will be available this summer. The product was never announced because Movial didn't want to preempt Nokia's launch of the 770.

While there is no tiny thumb-keyboard like that on the Treo 600/650 or the QWERTY keyboards on the Nokia 9xxx Communicators or Nokia messaging phones and it relies on stylus input like the Sony Ericsson or Motorola Symbian based UIQ devices or my Palm Vx PDA, or my Palm enabled Kyocera 6035 smartphone, handwriting recognition is a feature of the Nokia 770, and in a hands on review Michael Oryl of Mobile Burn pointed out a unique characteristic of that capability of the 770:

The 770 makes use of a different type of handwriting recognition system than that found in the 7710, which surprised me a bit for some reason. Unlike the 7710's Palm'esque character entry box, the 770 makes use of a system where you can write a string of characters (also known as a "word", in layman's terms) one after another, instead of writing characters on top of each other, which some find unnatural. The software on the 770 I used was early in general, but the basic handwriting recognition seemed to work, even though I had not trained it to my personal style of writing. - Michael Oryl -

For those that haven't really "examined" the Nokia 770 and development environment I would recommend this "Quickie" from The Economic Times of India.

I have no idea how successful this initial Nokia Internet tablet will be. Internet tablets as a product class have not been successful, but there are numerous reasons for that. They include price, size, functionality, the lack of WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, the lack of widespread proliferation of those technologies until the last year or so, and the state of silicon process technology.

The Nokia 770 appears to be right sized, right featured, and right priced, and possibly right timed, and it opens up the large Linux development community to Nokia. It is one more building block that Nokia has added to their multimedia handheld arsenal.

Nokia is more highly focused than most communications equipment manufacturers, but they are not so highly focused that they are unwilling to push the envelope and as a matter of culture they are not risk averse. This combination of focus and the willingness to take a chance on what they perceive to be extensions of their core markets at the proper time (or slightly ahead of time) is what has made them the largest and most profitable communications equipment manufacturer, and 2nd only to Cisco has allowed them to also have the largest market cap and cash hoard in that industry.

I'm not shaking my head. I plan to see where this leads.

- InCards (Eric L.) -


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